I love getting random emails from authors asking me to review a book, especially when the book is something I probably wouldn’t have normally picked up or even known about. Stretching the mind is a good thing!
Ed Brodow contacted me about reading and reviewing Fixer which is fiction but loosely based on his Grandfather’s life in New York in the early 1900’s and especially dealt with the Jewish population in New York. He graciously sent me an e-book copy to read.
From the slums of the Lower East Side to New Orleans, the Vatican, and the bloody battle of Belleau Wood, Fixer is the spellbinding tale of a fearless politician with a limp and a thirty-eight who is faced with an impossible choice between his career and his integrity.
Harry Leonnoff, uneducated son of Russian Jewish immigrants, overcomes the poverty of the Lower East Side, a crippling bout with polio, and rampant anti-Semitism to become the admired Robin Hood of Depression-Era New York. He helps four mayors get elected, saves nine innocent black men from the electric chair, and comes to the aid of immigrants and the poor. But the enmity of Fiorello La Guardia may be too much even for Harry Leonnoff to fix.
Ed was also kind enough to let me interview him for this review.
SBR: What made you decide to write a book loosely based on your Grandfather’s life?
EB: My grandfather was the most extraordinary human being I’ve ever met. His story is remarkable and yet no one alive today knows who he was. That has always disturbed me. For about 40 years, I’ve thought about telling the story. Why it came avalanching out when it did — about five years ago — I am not really sure, but better late than never. Incidentally, I would have written a memoir if I’d been in possession of enough facts, but I wasn’t so I made most of it up.
SBR: How long did it take you to research the facts you needed for your novel and then write the novel itself?
EB: I did all the research and wrote the first draft in seven weeks. It just came flying out. Whoosh! Then I spent two years polishing it.
SBR: What is your biggest obstacle when writing and how do you overcome it?
EB: I am a wonderful story teller but my style is economical (which I’m proud of, by the way). Sometimes I gloss over the details. My solution is to (1) carefully organize my ideas and outline the chapters; (2) do lots of research; and (3) answer the question, “What does the reader want to know?”
SBR: What actors would you choose to play your main characters in a movie version of your book?
EB: Everyone tells me that Fixer would be a great movie. For Harry Leonnoff, I could cast Daniel Day-Lewis (I have a feeling he would ace it), Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, or Nicholas Cage (he seems to understand that New York ethnic thing). For Fiorello, Jack Nicholson (he’d be great because he is short and has a great sense of humor), Paul Giamatti, John Malkovich, or Christoff Waltz.
SBR: Who are two of your favorite authors and what are you reading now?
EB: Jim Harrison and Hemingway, both fabulous story tellers. I’m reading Off to the Side by Jim Harrison.
My normal preferred genres of books usually doesn’t include historical novels. I don’t know why, but maybe the writers didn’t really impress me with their descriptions…or maybe I just got older and my tastes changed (kind of like they do with food). Needless to say, I truly enjoyed reading Fixer and getting a taste of what it was like in the early 1900’s in New York and what it was like to be an immigrant and Jewish on top of that. Politics were a whole different game back then and it was fascinating to learn about positions that don’t exist any more, but perhaps they should.
The author takes you through a very historic period in New York and the dark and seedy underbelly of politics. While the book is fiction, there is some truth to the story. He weaves a tale that makes you feel like you are there and living in that moment and can imagine what it was like to be an immigrant at the turn of the century.
This story really grabbed me and kept me entranced with the characters and how they overcame adversity for their time.
I definitely recommend this book and give it 2 thumbs up! If you have a Kindle or other E-book reader it is a steal at $2.99 on Smashwords.